Fox Sports host Katie Nolan challenged her own network and the sports media in general in a commentary on Tuesday to send a message to the National Football League by stopping its practice of marginalizing women in the field.
“It’s time for women to have a seat at the big boy table, and not where their presence is a gimmick or a concept — just a person who happens to have breasts offering their opinion on the sports they love and the topics they know,” she said. “Because, the truth is, the NFL will never respect women and their opinions as long as the media it answers to doesn’t. I’m ready when you are, Fox.”
Nolan said she backed down a month ago when she had a chance to ask NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a question during an event the league co-hosted with Fox.
“I wanted to ask why, when the NFL’s always talking about growing their audience and penetrating new markets, why he would not consider a larger suspension for Ray Rice to send the message to the untapped market of female fans that the NFL actually cares about them,” Nolan explained. “I worded it and then reworded it. But then, fear crept in. I started thinking, well, the commissioner is here as a guest of Fox, and if I offend him in some way, I’m definitely going to hear about it from my bosses.”
She said that she did not ask the question because she felt it was not her role, since female sports commentators are typically relegated toward roles as sidelines interviewers and headline readers.
“Sometimes, they even let us monitor the Internet from a couch,” she argued. “And while the Stephen A. Smiths, Mike Francesas, Dan Patricks and Keith Olbermanns of the world get to weigh in on the issues of the day, we just smile and throw to commercial.”
Both Goodell and the league have been criticized for their response to Rice’s attack against his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, this past February. Though the league has suspended Rice “indefinitely,” detractors like Olbermann are still calling for a boycott of the league entirely.
But Nolan said on Tuesday that such a move would not be realistic, and could do more harm to the sport than good.
“More likely, a boycott would just remove the critical thinkers from the NFL conversation, and leave the league to continue making billions of dollars with even less accountability,” she said. “A boycott means walking away. I would rather fight back.”
Watch Nolan’s commentary, as posted online on Tuesday, below.